Psychodynamic View of Adolf Hitler
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Psychoanalysis can offer the historian an added dimension to his or her discipline because it allows the scholar to "pose new questions by raising previously private facts." Such is not an easy task. Whoever would embark upon a psychodynamic interpretation of key historical figures would have to (a) possess an adequate background in psychology, and (b) have to know a great deal about the subject itself.
For a figure like Adolf Hitler, psychodynamic interpretation is even more difficult due to the lack of personal information on him. This led many psychoanalysts to speculate on the nature of his childhood and parents, even though no historical record can verify the assumptions. Consequently, a number of myths evolved around the nature of his personality, all of which assumed that Hitler was a "madman" according to some well-defined category - e.g. paranoid, psychotic, schizophrenic, bipolar, and so on. His documented actions and published statements, however, give the impression of a very complex pathology that could perhaps be best explained by Karen Horney's notion of rigid "self-image."
It has since become public knowledge that United States intelligence, during World War II, tried to get more information on Hitler's personal life in order to predict what he might do. Unfortunately, nothing exists to back up what they found. Not even Hitler's closest associates claimed to know him very well. Albert Speer, his architect and armaments minister, said that Hitler went out of his way to maintain his distance from people, adding that "if Hitler had any friends, then I was his closest." Rudolph Hess, former deputy Fuhrer, agreed with Speer that Hitler was a hard person to get to know. The only primary source of Hitler's early life is Mein Kampf. Since he wrote it for purposes of propaganda and self-promotion, one might suspect that it would not be very accurate.
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